Google Developer Days Europe took place in Cracow in the beginning of September. It was the first time Google organised this event in Europe. During those two days, latest products and platforms from Google were introduced to developers who attended the conference. As I am quite new to programming, that was my first chance to attend such an event. Here are my thoughts on the conference.

This is the future

The main goal of the conference was to present a new technology that Google would offer in the nearest future to the users and developers. I have to admit that I was a little bit afraid that I wouldn’t understand a lot because I had no previous experience with developing e.g. Android apps. Nevertheless, it turned out the majority of presentations aimed to present their topics to people who were new to the solutions offered by Google. During the opening speech, main areas were briefly introduced.

The attendees were informed that the conference would focus on solutions related to:

  • Progressive Web Apps,
  • Android Things,
  • Google Assistant,
  • Google Cloud,
  • Firebase and
  • Machine Learning.

All the speakers seemed to be convinced that their vision is the vision of the future of technology. We have to admit that Google is one of the biggest players in the technology field, therefore *it is highly possible that Google experts’ opinions may have a significant impact on the future of technology.

Progressive Web Apps

I couldn’t stop the feeling that Progressive Web Apps was the expression of the conference, repeated over and over again, almost during every presentation. For those of you who are not familiar with this expression:

Progressive Web App (PWA) is a term used to denote web apps that use the latest web technologies. Progressive web apps are technically regular web pages (or websites) but can appear to the user like traditional applications or (native) mobile applications.

Sam Dutton shared some statistics related to PWA in his speech Progressive Web Apps: What, why and how?. It was quite surprising for me to find out that an average user spends 80% of the time using 3 favourite apps and installs 0 (ZERO!) new apps per month. According to Sam, it is expected that more and more Internet users will be mobile-only users. That means that web development will have to focus solely on mobile apps. Here come PWAs as the best rescue solution.

There were few more presentations about PWAs, also about PWA using Firebase as backend. All speakers tried to convince the audience that almost every app can be changed to Progressive Web App. However, they also admitted that these apps don’t work on every device yet. Plus, iOS does not support service workers or push notifications.

Internet of Things

I liked that participants had a chance to get to know the newest solutions in the field of Internet of Things. As Dave Smith explains in his presentation What’s up with Internet of Things and the Google Assistant – IoT devices are not futuristic robots we knew from Sci-fi movies and books. In fact, they are and will be the devices we use in everyday life. What I found particularly valuable were the speeches on voice and image technology. It was a really great experience to see how smart Google Assistant is and how helpful it can be, e.g. when we have to find something quickly on the Internet. I also had a chance to have my face sketched by a robot 🙂

One more fact related to media also caught my attention – it was the search functionality in videos and films. As more and more data is being recorded, not written, it’s important to enable users to look for a particular word, subject or expression in the videos. Can you imagine that Google can analyse your facial expression and tag your photo with sad, angry, happy, ecstatic or other emotions? In my opinion, this feature will be extremely useful. The same as analysing images which was also presented during the conference.

Community building

All the presentations were good and showed a variety of advantages Google products and platforms represent. However, when it comes to this conference, I think that the social aspect was the most important. Participants could chat while eating gluten-free cookies, try how bots built with Android Things work, take part in workshops or enjoy afterparties. I even had a chance to record a podcast in a professional studio! As one of the speakers said,

we can’t create technology without the community.

It was quite easy to notice that organisers took care of community building and diversity aspects. It was really nice to talk to people who have massive experience not only in programming but also with organising conferences, hackathons and meetups.

I have never had a chance before to attend this kind of event and I was really surprised how well organised Google Developer Days were. The ambience during the conference was really great and I enjoyed these two days in Cracow. Despite the feeling of being in the centre of Google products advertisement, I learnt new things and spoke with people passionate about their work and new technologies. That’s what I think conferences are actually about.